ACC Football 2013 Previews & Predictions: Week 2 (Part 2)

After a Come-From-Behind Win Over BYU, Can Virginia Find a Way to Upset the Ducks on Saturday?

After a Come-From-Behind Win Over BYU, Can Virginia Find a Way to Upset the Ducks?

Welcome to part two of this week’s previews and predictions! Here’s part one if you missed it.

Western Carolina Catamounts (0-1) at Virginia Tech Hokies (0-1) (0-0): The Hokies are hungry to put last week’s disaster behind them, and rightfully so. Despite holding Alabama to just 206 yards of offense, special teams and their own offensive mistakes ultimately doomed them to a lopsided loss. Logan Thomas isn’t the only reason the offense was completely ineffective on Saturday — plenty of receivers dropped passes — but it still appears that he hasn’t progressed past last season’s struggles. He’ll have an opportunity to shake that feeling this weekend, however, against the incredibly overmatched Catamounts. The 41.5-point line on this one sounds a bit aggressive, but there’s no reason why Tech shouldn’t win handedly. Prediction: Virginia Tech 41, WCU 7

Oregon Ducks (1-0) at Virginia Cavaliers (1-0) (0-0): Virginia’s defense bailed them out last week, as the offense still attempts to get its bearings with David Watford at the helm. This week, it’s unlikely they’re so lucky, though. The Ducks will have two Heisman candidates (Marcus Mariota, De’Anthony Thomas) on the field on nearly every offensive play, plus more team speed than the Hoos can possibly compete with all at once. It shouldn’t be seen as a sign of a season dead in the water for Virginia, but Oregon is going to run away with this one. Improved defense or not, there’s just very little UVa can do about it. Prediction: Oregon 49, Virginia 13

Old Dominion Monarchs (0-1) at Maryland Terrapins (1-0) (0-0): Maryland looks like a team reborn after last week’s offensive showing (43 points), while Old Dominion actually doesn’t look too shabby themselves after putting up 38 in a loss to East Carolina. But the Terps should have very little trouble in this game. The defense, though young, looks like it may be able to measure up to last season’s standards, and as long as everyone stays healthy (no guarantee), the offense should continue firing on all cylinders. C.J. Brown should have plenty of protection when operating out of the pocket, and given ODU’s status still transitioning to the FBS, he’ll probably be able to take advantage of a size discrepancy while on the run as well. Prediction: Maryland 52, ODU 20

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ACC Football 2013 Previews & Predictions: Week 1 (Part 2)

Jerome Smith and the Syracuse Run Game Hold the Key to Beating Penn State on Saturday

Jerome Smith and the Syracuse Run Game Hold the Key to Beating Penn State on Saturday

Welcome to part two of this week’s previews and predictions! Here’s part one if you missed it.

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs at NC State Wolfpack: With coach Sonny Dykes now off to California, it’s likely the Bulldogs’ torrid offensive pace from last year leaves with him. That also means that State’s very young secondary, which is replacing three of four starters from 2012, gets a bit of a break too. This won’t necessarily be a cakewalk for this young Wolfpack team — we still don’t know what type of pistol elements are already implemented into this offense, nor do we know how the running game will look (my guess is mediocre). But they should be able to score a home win to start the year without a ton of difficulty, and build some positive momentum for this very green group. Prediction: NC State 37, Louisiana Tech 21

Penn State Nittany Lions v. Syracuse Orange (MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ): Neither team has revealed who their quarterback will be, but in Syracuse’s case, they’ve got the better options to choose from in Drew Allen (likely the pick) and Terrel Hunt. But regardless of who’s throwing the ball, this game is very likely to be decided in the trenches. Penn State’s rushing defense was very strong last year and SU figures to have one of this year’s top rushing attacks in the ACC. If either team starts getting in behind the line, that will be the difference-maker in what should be a hard-fought battle between the former rivals. Prediction: Syracuse 20, Penn State 17

BYU Cougars at Virginia Cavaliers: This game is perceived to be pretty close (current line’s at +1 for UVa), but I have a feeling we’re looking at a much different outcome. With a young quarterback in David Watford, the Hoos are likely to spend the opening portions of the contest finding their way on offense, which should also open up the BYU defense for some critical opportunities. The Cougars only allowed 14 points per game last season, and as long as Kyle Van Noy‘s in the fold, they’re likely to hold teams to a similar number this year as well. Despite the cross-country trip, BYU makes short work of Virginia. Prediction: BYU 36, Virginia 17

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ACC Football 2013 Television Schedule & Spreads: Week 1

Tajh Boyd Leads Clemson Against Georgia in One of Many Nationally Televised ACC Games

Tajh Boyd Leads Clemson Against Georgia in One of Many Nationally Televised ACC Games

Every week, we’ll be providing a quick rundown of which ACC football games are on television, and also list the latest spread on each game (should you choose to engage in gambling-related activities). Please plan your days accordingly.

ACC Football Week 1 TV Schedule & Spreads

Thursday, August 29

North Carolina Tar Heels at South Carolina Gamecocks (-12), 6 p.m. ET, ESPN

Presbyterian Blue Hose at Wake Forest Demon Deacons (-38), 6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN 3

Saturday, August 31

Special: ESPN College Gameday, Live from Clemson, S.C., 11 a.m. ET, ESPN

Elon Phoenix at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (-46), noon ET, ESPN 3

Villanova Wildcats at Boston College Eagles (-16.5), noon ET, ESPNEWS

Florida International Panthers at Maryland Terrapins (-21), 12:30 p.m. ET, ESPN 3/College Gameplan

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs at NC State Wolfpack (-13.5), 12:30 p.m. ET, ESPN 3/College Gameplan

Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Syracuse Orange (+8), 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN 2

BYU Cougars at Virginia Cavaliers (+1), 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU

N.C. Central Eagles at Duke Blue Devils (-33), 4 p.m. ET, ESPN 3

Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Virginia Tech Hokies (+19.5), 5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Georgia Bulldogs at Clemson Tigers (+2), 8 p.m. ET, ABC

Sunday, September 1

Ohio Bobcats at Louisville Cardinals (-20.5), 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Monday, September 2

Florida State Seminoles at Pittsburgh Panthers (+10), 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

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ACC vs. Big Ten in the Pinstripe Bowl: Will NYC Ever Matter in College Football?

For the Pinstripe Bowl to Become More Important, it Needs Non-NY Area Teams

For the Pinstripe Bowl to Become More Important, it Needs Non-New York Area Teams Invited

As most are aware by now, the ACC has signed on with the New Era Pinstripe Bowl (located at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, NY) for a six-year term starting in 2014. The game will rotate the league’s third through sixth postseason selections, and will match the ACC up against the Big Ten, the only other major conference with a foothold near the New York area. Obviously, this sets the stage for what should be an interesting battle between the two conferences to gain market share in the nation’s largest television market (and the largest without a major college football team to call its own).

Over its three years of existence thus far, the Pinstripe Bowl has found success in featuring nearby teams Syracuse and Rutgers, and pitting them against Big 12 schools they wouldn’t normally play (or in the case of West Virginia, played regularly for decades). With those two schools off to the ACC and Big Ten, respectively, this move only makes more sense now. It also allows the Pinstripe Bowl to continue moving up in the bowl payout hierarchy, but will that mean a bump up in importance as well? Last year, the Pinstripe Bowl’s $1.8 million payout was 12th among non-BCS games in terms of payout. Now, with a more lucrative setup matching up teams either from nearby campuses or with large alumni bases in New York, I’d bet that number has a chance to increase. The key, however, will be variety.

The biggest knock on the Pinstripe Bowl up to this point is that it hasn’t had to deal with hosting teams outside of the New York/New Jersey corridor, featuring SU twice and Rutgers once — all wins for the “home” team. Northeast football fans don’t exactly have a sterling reputation for traveling, so this arrangement — despite the fact that it’s in the snowy northeast in December — has been advantageous for both sides. I’m doubtful this will continue, however, if the two teams continue to be shuttled off to the Bronx. And that’s where the rest of the teams in their respective conferences come in.

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Early 2013 ACC Football Betting Lines

"Clean, Old Fashioned Hate" is One of 48 ACC Matchups With Current Betting Odds in Vegas

“Clean, Old Fashioned Hate” is One of 48 ACC Matchups With Current Betting Odds in Vegas

While I’m not endorsing gambling (unless you’re in Las Vegas, then go right ahead), it’s always a great sign that college football’s right around the corner when you can start betting on games. To that end, Golden Nugget’s sports books have published lines for almost 250 games this fall — 48 of which are involving ACC squads. The full list of ACC games, which I’ve included below, are gleaned from the list provided by Don Best via SB Nation.

Week One

North Carolina at South Carolina (-12)

Penn State at Syracuse (+6.5) (at East Rutherford, NJ)

BYU at Virginia (+3.5)

Alabama at Virginia Tech (+17) (at Atlanta)

Georgia at Clemson (+3.5)

Florida State at Pittsburgh (+13)

Week Two

Syracuse at Northwestern (-13)

Oregon at Virginia (+21)

Florida at Miami (+2.5)

Week Three

Boston College at USC (-21.5)

Nevada at Florida State (-26)

Louisville at Kentucky (+14)

Week Four

Clemson at NC State (+11)

North Carolina at Georgia Tech (-4.5)

West Virginia at Maryland (+2)

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ACC Football Chat: Coach Speak, “Respect,” and Increased Cooperation Between ACC & Its Members

Last Week, Jimbo Fisher Tried to Dispel the Myth of ACC Inferiority -- But Was it All Coach Speak?

Last Week, Jimbo Fisher Tried to Dispel the Myth of ACC Inferiority — But Was it All Coach Speak?

Last week around the ACC, the buzz was all about respect and a new sense of cooperation between the league and its members (specifically the football schools). Jumping off from these ideas, Hokie Mark and I chatted about what it all means, and what these ideas may develop into over the coming years. Check out the conversation below:

Mark: Earlier this off-season, Bob Stoops of Oklahoma made sports news with his statement to the effect that SEC football superiority is largely “propaganda.” Now Florida State‘s Jimbo Fisher has come out and said that the ACC is not far behind the SEC and that “perception is a huge part of it.” Is this just coach speak, or are OU, FSU and others in the ACC really close enough to dethrone the SEC?

John: College football coaches are, to a point, politicians, in that they’ll say whatever needs to be said to stay in the good graces of their fans/constituents. Stoops also said in the last month that the BCS was terrible after what happened to his team last year — ignoring all the times his team benefited from that same flawed system. Point is, he’ll say whatever’s necessary to make it appear like it’s not his fault that his team has fallen short of expectations. Fisher is in a similar boat, but has also just come off a season in which the ‘Noles largely met preseason expectations (ACC title, Orange Bowl). Both do have a point, however.

The college football season is largely shaped by the preseason polls, and whether or not a team appears in them regularly determines whether they’re in the title conversation at the end of it. So the bias toward the SEC has actually created a situation where the league gets off to a running start against the competition. That’s not to say the top teams in the SEC aren’t better than the top teams in other conferences (they are, for the most part), but they do get a slight leg-up on the perception front, which is half the battle in college football.

What about you, though? Obviously your team’s been in the national title conversation more often than mine has over the past decade, so how does it feel being discounted when you’re near the top of the polls?

Mark: Not at all, John. I’m one of those guys who thrives on not getting respect — it makes me want to prove it. And I think for the most part the Virginia Tech football team is the same; when they are disrespected, that’s when they are most dangerous. I know the Key Play has “Beat Bama” t-Shirts for sale, and Hokies everywhere seem to be running with the #BeatBama hash tag. So even though we are prohibitive underdogs, I’m quietly optimistic that Beamer & Co. will have “a little something” for Alabama.

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ACC Football Chat: Discussing Non-Conference Rivals and the Evolving Recruiting Landscape

Florida and Miami Have No Intentions on Renewing Their Rivalry Past 2013

Florida and Miami Have No Intentions on Renewing Their Gridiron Rivalry Past 2013

Earlier in the week, our own Hokie Mark started up a conversation surrounding three- and four-way rivalries over on SB Nation’s Every Day Should Be Saturday. The basics: there are several three-way rivalries being played out this season, and some of them are going away for a long time after that. Some due to disinterest, others due to scheduling. But what Mark was getting at was the unique setup for three- and four-way rivalries, and which are some of the most- and least-heralded in the country.

Of course, this turned into a jumping-off point for an email conversation between he and I, which I’ve compiled below for everyone. While the main topic focused on non-conference rivals, we also branched out into what’s become an increasingly year-round discussion for everyone: recruiting. Check it out:

Mark: Hello again, John! Only 100 days until the football season begins — a very special one for Syracuse and Pittsburgh, to be sure. For the Orange, the season essentially begins and ends with old rivals: Penn State and Boston College. How do you feel about renewing those rivalries, and are there other rivalries for ‘Cuse that you’d like to see reawakened?

John: I’m about as excited as you can get, considering we’re still about 100 days out. Rekindling the rivalry with Boston College has been one of my favorite aspects of the ACC move, since it easily addresses our crisis of football identity (though much of the media doesn’t think so). Penn State, while arguably our oldest and most storied rival, hasn’t filled that role in over 20 years. It’s nice to play them when we can, but I think most fans have kind of moved on from the Nittany Lions — especially those of us who aren’t old enough to remember when SU and PSU were rivals to begin with.

As far as other rivalries worth rekindling, only two come to mind, and one’s not necessarily a “rivalry” at all. West Virginia‘s always been among our most-hated opponents, and with Syracuse beating the Mountaineers the last three times out (including last December’s Pinstripe Bowl), it’s only created a more hostile tension between the two fan bases. I was at the game in December, and ‘Neers fans were not what you would call “friendly” toward the Orange contingent, by any means. The other aforementioned opponent was Virginia Tech. While never traditionally considered one of Syracuse’s rivals, the Hokies and SU played plenty of heated games toward the latter years of the original Big East football conference that are worth rehashing. Of course, the ACC’s divisional setup won’t do much to help us play Tech more often, so that one’s also kind of off the table.

What about you, from a VaTech perspective? Any rivalries you’d like to start back up — feasible or not? Have any ill will left toward Syracuse from the Big East days?

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